|Match Date||11th Apr, 2004|
|Venue||Homebush (Telstra Stadium)|
It was hard to tell who was the winning coach after the Bulldogs held on for a thrilling 28-26 National Rugby League victory over the fast finishing Manly Sea Eagles at Telstra Stadium.
While a downcast Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes admitted his side had to go "back to the drawing board" after their last gasp win, upbeat Manly mentor Des Hasler said his side was ready to "make a noise" in the 2004 season after their spirited second half fightback.
But both coaches were in the same boat in the final minute as Manly fullback Andrew Walker lined up a sideline conversion attempt that would have sent the match into a golden point period.
However, Walker's kick shaved the left upright and missed, finally putting an end to a mighty second half comeback by the rejuvenated Sea Eagles.
The embattled Bulldogs have been bunkered down at their Belmore headquarters for the last seven weeks and were again under siege, this time from a spirited Manly outfit that came into the match as the new wooden spoon favourites.
And the Bulldogs looked they would sprint home after leading 16-0 at halftime and 22-6 in the 48th minute.
But Manly piled on another 20 second half points to keep the Bulldogs faithful honest in the 25,771-strong crowd.
The fans were on the edge of their seat when Sea Eagles winger Chris Hicks crashed over down the right sideline in a 78th minute try awarded by video referee Graeme West.
But the Bulldogs (3-1 record) were put out of their misery when former Wallaby Walker missed a tough conversion attempt that inflicted the fourth straight loss on Manly (1-4 record).
"I haven't sat through too many more frustrating games than that. We were up 16-0 at halftime and probably fortunate to be in that position ... it's back to the drawing board," Folkes said.
"If we play like that against the Warriors (next week) they will put 50 on us.
"It was just not our night. I guess it is better to win ugly than lose pretty."
To add to the Bulldogs' anxiety, young pivot Johnathan Thurston is expected to be out for six weeks after suffering ligament damage just below his right knee in a 31st minute tackle.
"Our doc said he hadn't seen anything like it in his 29 years as our doctor so obviously it is a pretty unusual injury," Folkes said.
And it was back to the drawing board for Bulldogs winger Hazem El Masri who has to start again in his assault on the world record for successive goals.
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||1||4||0||12|
|Johnathan Thurston||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Brent Sherwin||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Andrew Ryan||Second Row||1||0||0||4|
|Willie Mason||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Mark O'Meley||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Sonny Bill Williams||Replacement||0||0||0||0|